Nude lipstick is an easy, no-frills way to tie a makeup look together without going over the top. Maybe you want to keep your look simple overall, or maybe you’re rocking a bold eye that you want to let steal the show. Either way, a neutral lip can help ground your glam in a chic and effortless way.
In the past, brands often used the term “nude” to refer to a light beige lipstick shade that matched caucasian skin, centering whiteness and excluding people of color. In actuality, “nude” is different for everyone, and encompasses any neutral color that’s similar to your skin tone. In this case, we’re highlighting an entire range of lipstick and gloss shades that read nude on deeper complexions. Read on to find out how to choose the best one for you.
How to choose a nude lipstick for darker skin tones
There are tons of nude lipstick options for black and brown skin. The key is finding a shade that is nice and warm, and has enough depth to mirror the depth of your complexion.
Emily Amick, a Brooklyn-based makeup artist, says there are no hard-and-fast rules to choosing a nude lipstick. Wanna try the infamous “match your lipstick to your nipple” trick? Have at it. Alternatively, you can just select shades of brown, beige, peach, and rose that are similar to your skin tone. Meaning, they don’t need to be a perfect match, but they should play nicely with your complexion to keep the look subtle.
How to apply nude lipstick
Keep the look simple by applying a single shade you love all over your lips, or make things a bit more dynamic by pairing the lipstick with a lip liner about two to three shades darker than your natural lip color.
“For fairer skin, this could be a peach or dusty rose, and for the deepest of complexions, it could be a deep, warm brown or nearly black-brown shade,” says Amick. “Instead of creating a harsh line of color, I like to take a clean brush and blend the liner in toward the center of the lips. Then, choose a lipstick shade closest to your natural lip color, and apply in the center, using that same brush to blend the shade outward to meet the liner.”
To finish things off, blend the tones together. “Blending is key with this look, so take your time and if you need to blend in a bit more liner or lipstick as you go that’s fine,” says Amick. “You can top with a gloss in a similar shade to the lipstick if you like, or a clear gloss for super shine.”
Shop 14 of the best nude lipsticks for brown skin
Mented Cosmetics Semi-Matte Lipstick — $17.00
“Mented Cosmetics is a brand created by Black women and their creamy, blendable lipstick shades cover a whole range of perfect nude tones with black and brown people in mind,” says Amick. This sem-matte lipstick comes in nine subtle shades of pink, peach, and brown. Pictured above is Nude Lala, a warm pink with brown undertones.
Ctzn Cosmetics Nudiversal Lip Duo — $25.00
This beautiful line of nudes from Ctzn Cosmetics offers both matte lipsticks and shiny glosses. You can choose from 25 amazing shades ranging from Stockholm (pictured above), a rich brown with neutral undertones, to Abu Dhabi, an olivey beige.
Sephora Collection #lipstories Lipstick — $9.00
This lipstick in the shade Yum Yum (pictured above) has been my nude go-to for years. It’s only $9 and has a super hydrating yet opaque finish. It’s available in a range of colors including bold purples, corals, and greens, but there are also a ton of nude pink, peach, brown, and beige options. If you want your nude to have a bit of pizazz, chose one of the metallic finishes.
Just B Cosmetics Lip Spectrum — $38.00
Customize your perfect neutral with these dual-ended lippies. One side features a cream lipstick while the other has a slightly darker liquid lipstick, allowing you to blend the colors to find your ideal match. Three of the shades, Not Just Champagne, Not Just Peach, and Not Just Pink Work as fabulous nudes on darker skin tones.
Merit Shade Slick Tinted Lip Oil — $24.00
These tinted lip oils are, in a word, gorgeous. There are a few brown shades, like Falcon (pictured above), that read neutral on melanated skin. They’re super moisturizing and glossy while providing great color payoff.
Uoma Beauty Black Magic Hypnotic Impact High Shine Lipstick — $24.00
Uoma Beauty’s high-shine lipsticks will give your lips a reflective, mirror-like finish. They come in a range of bold colors, but there are two neutral shades that really stand out: Feminist (pictured above), a peachy pink, and Regal, a sheer beige, both of which look stunning on a range of skin tones.
Mora Cosmetics the Satin Sheen Multistick — $25.00
Get a pretty, soft glow with these multi-sticks. Two of the shades: Minxy (pictured above), a rose nude; and Jessie’s Girl, a ’90s-inspired brown, make for perfect neutral lips. You can also swipe these on your cheeks and lids for an easyh monochromatic look.
Maybelline Lifter Gloss with Hyaluronic Acid — $10.00
Maybelline’s sheer, high-shine glosses give you the ultimate your-lips-but-better look. Hyaluronic acid leaves them super hydrated, and a number of the line’s pink, orange, and brown shades will read nude on darker skin. At $10, it’s worth picking up a few different options to fit any neutral look.
Emilie Heath Lip Atelier Lip Color — $38.00
If you’re looking for a moisturizing, buildable formula, grab this lipstick from Emilie Heath. It’s made with good-for-lips ingredients, like ginseng, camellia tea, and coffee, which provide antioxidant protection and help smooth out your skin. As far as neutrals go, you have two shades to choose from: Mude, a mauvey nude; and As If (pictured above), a warm beige.
Anastasia Beverly Hills Matte & Satin Velvet Lipstick — $23.00
Anastasia’s line of matte lipsticks has a nude for every skin tone. There are plenty of beautiful brown shades to choose from, but its pink and peach tones are really something special. Peach Amber (which is one of many, pictured above) is a deep, warm peach with a satin-soft finish.
Bobbi Brown Crushed Lip Color — $29.00
This Bobbi Brown lipstick offers the triple-whammy of being extra-hydrating (it’s got vitamins C, E, and beeswax in its formula), extra-pigmented, and extra-long-lasting. If you love a pinkish-brown nude, there are plenty of options, including Blondie Pink, the warm yellow-toned pink pictured above.
Fenty Beauty by Rihanna Stunna Lip Paint Longwear Fluid Lip Color — $26.00
Fenty Beauty is known for making makeup that works with all skin tones (40 shades of foundation, anyone?), and its line of Stunna Lip Paints is no exception. The range offers a few great nudes, including Unveil (the chocolate brown pictured above), Uncuffed (a rosy mauve), and Unbuttoned (a peachy nude).
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